HALLOWELL — The City Council will hold a public hearing July 10 to discuss changing a noise ordinance to allow outdoor music on Water Street past 9 p.m. during city-sanctioned events, including Old Hallowell Day.

According to the Hallowell City Ordinance, noise levels in the downtown business district cannot exceed 60 decibels between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. and 50 decibels between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. Normal conversation and background music average 60 decibels, according to webmd.com. The proposed ordinance would allow music during Old Hallowell Day weekend until 1 a.m.

That stipulation typically has been waived on Friday and Saturday of Old Hallowell Day weekend — this year July 14 and 15 — but the proposed ordinance would extend live music options to other city-sponsored outdoor music performances and other city-sanctioned outdoor public events, according to City Clerk Diane Polky.

Last year, during the Planning Board and City Council approval process for the Quarry Tap Room’s new outdoor patio, some Hallowell residents took issue with the project and the potential disruption it could cause.

John Merrill, who owns 110 Water St. with his wife, Janet, next to the Quarry, said he was concerned about the outdoor music and its intrusion on neighboring tenants. He said as far as he knew, the Quarry has done a good job of keeping the noise down after 9 p.m., but said there’ll be a problem if that changes.

“It doesn’t surprise me that they would try to slide something in (the ordinance) like that,” said Merrill, who owns a bookstore on Water Street. “If they start blasting music downtown past 9 p.m., there will be a problem.”

Merrill wasn’t aware of the upcoming public hearing but said he’ll be at the July 10 council meeting and probably will make his views known to City Hall before that. He said that last year at Old Hallowell Day, music at the Quarry was twice as loud as anywhere else downtown.

City Manager Nate Rudy said he wasn’t aware of anybody having concerns about the proposal, but he figures some people will oppose having music past 9 p.m. for two nights at Old Hallowell Day and some will be unhappy with the city-sanctioned events clause.

During the back-and-forth last year between the Quarry’s partners and the Planning Board, concerns were raised about the Quarry planning to turn the outdoor space into a live music venue with regular events; but co-owner Steve Lachance said the focus was always on additional seating capacity, not music. Lachance and co-owner Chris Vallee did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

Merrill contended that because the outdoor patio is between two brick structures, thesound would be magnified, affecting not only people of both sides of the space but also those across the street. He said he hasn’t made or heard of any noise complaints since the space opened.

Hallowell hosts the Rock on the River concert series each Tuesday evening during the summer, and those shows typically wind down before 9 p.m. The Kennebec Wharf has live outdoor music during Old Hallowell Day as well.

It isn’t clear what other city-sanctioned events might be considered for live music past 9 p.m. The Hallowell Arts and Cultural Committee is brainstorming ideas to keep spirits high and keep people coming to the city during the Water Street reconstruction period next year. Rudy said the city is developing reasonable and enforceable noise standards to balance economic opportunities for downtown businesses that operate after hours with the right of residents to have peaceful enjoyment of their property.

“The proposed revisions that will be presented to the City Council for consideration will be an ongoing effort of interested citizens, the Ordinance Rewrite Committee, city staff and the Hallowell Police Department, who will, by default, have the responsibility of citing noise ordinance violations outside of regular City Hall hours,” Rudy said.

The council meets at 6 p.m. July 10 at City Hall.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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